This Weight Stigma Has Become a Global Health Problem, Studies Say

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When you step on the scale at the doctor’s office, a health care professional will likely evaluate your weight based on your body mass index (BMI). If you’re not an athlete or naturally muscular, you may be considered overweight or obese by this metric—even if you eat healthily and work out all of the time.

If you’re a proud member of the fat community, do you feel supported by your doctor? Do you feel accepted by colleagues at work? What about your family and friends? According to new research, a majority of overweight adults have experienced fat-shaming—and their experiences with stigma have had a negative effect on not only their self-worth but also their willingness to seek out health care assistance.

The impact weight stigma has on people’s lives

More than half of the nearly 14,000 WW (formerly Weight Watchers) members surveyed between May and July 2020 say they experienced fat-shaming from family, friends, doctors, classmates, and even coworkers. Moreover, fat-shaming isn’t only a problem in the U.S.—it includes adults living in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and the UK.

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